Lava Breach Prompts New Barrier Construction Near Svartsengi Skip to content

Lava Breach Prompts New Barrier Construction Near Svartsengi

By Ragnar Tómas

Fire trucks spew water at flowing lava
Photo: Lava cooling efforts near Svartsengi (Screenshot from RÚV).

Responders are constructing a new barrier and applying cooling measures to control three lava streams flowing over an existing barrier near the Svartsengi Power Plant on the Reykjanes peninsula. The lava is moving slowly, posing no immediate danger, and efforts continue to prevent it from reaching critical infrastructure.

Working through the night

Work has begun on the construction of a new protective barrier (marked in yellow on the map below) within another barrier north of the Svartsengi Power Plant (marked in pink) that was breached by lava last night, RÚV reports.

Three lava streams began flowing over the barrier, prompting the resumption of lava cooling measures that firefighters had experimented with earlier this week; heavy machinery was used to limit the spread of the lava.

A map of older and new protective barriers
Screenshot of a lava barrier map provided by RÚV

As noted by RÚV, numerous workers, firefighters, police, and other emergency responders have been taking shifts throughout the night, attemping to control the lava by covering it with soil and slowing its flow with cooling measures.

By 2 AM, one lava stream had been stanched, but thick, glowing lava was still flowing in three streams down the barriers. The flow of the smallest lava stream, however, appeared to have slowed following the cooling measures applied overnight.

A novel situation

As noted by RÚV, the land behind the barrier slopes towards the Svartsengi power plant, and the lava flow is only about a kilometre away from structures in Svartsengi. The lava is moving very slowly, however, so there is no immediate danger.

RÚV quotes Elísabet Pálmadóttir, a natural disaster specialist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, as saying that there have been no significant changes in the lava flow since last night.

Hjördís Guðmundsdóttir, a spokesperson for the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told RÚV earlier this morning that responders were continuing to cool the lava and working to control the flow. The lava had been accumulating over the past few days, and responders were, therefore, prepared, though the situation remains novel.

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